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RV Review: Highland Ridge RV Open Range 19BH – Is it the best choice?

Whenever someone claims something’s the best, my bologna filter goes into high gear. Whether that’s whoever built the product, or whoever’s talking about it. And “the best” is subjective. Someone might like a big ol’ Class A diesel pusher, while others might want something more like today’s Highland Ridge RV Open Range 19BH.

Where I got this “best” notion is from a well-known video RV review channel. The reviewer claimed this was the best starter trailer on the market. Hmmm, let’s see. 

What it is

The Open Range 19BH is an affordable entry-level single-axle bunk model. It’s a “stick and tin” trailer, meaning that it uses a wooden framing and then covers that with a corrugated aluminum siding. 

There are absolutely advantages to this kind of construction, including the price. But, also, almost anyone with a moderate ability to fix things can probably repair anything on a trailer like this. Laminated trailers may require more specialized tools and skills if there is physical damage to the trailer. 

Vintage RVs built like this are great restoration projects

The proof of this is that so many vintage RVs are built like this and I see folks embark on total restoration projects all the time. As long as they have some knowledge of which end of a screwdriver works plus a way to watch YouTube and own a basic set of tools, they’re set. In fact I’ve seen some pretty impressive restorations. Also, there are things like the RV Boot Camp where you can go and learn more about how to restore a vintage trailer. 

But that corrugated siding also may require greater attention. That’s because the space between the windows and other breaches in the outside has more and varied space between the window or baggage door and the aluminum skin. Something has to bridge this gap to keep the water out of the walls and that material can fail over time. So not paying attention to the seals can mean water damage. That’s not good.

Nice touches in the Open Range 19BH

Speaking of baggage doors and windows, one of the things I liked about this trailer was that the baggage door on the front of this trailer has a magnetic hold back – which is a nice touch. But that front baggage compartment is one of the smallest I’ve seen – which is pretty surprising. 

Yes, there is additional space under the east-west bed in the front, but that’s accessible from the inside of the trailer. I suppose in a trailer like this you’re likely to get someone towing it with a less-capable tow vehicle. Especially in that case, you don’t want to encourage folks to overload the baggage area. But still. 

Fairly nifty galley in the Open Range 19BH

The galley in this rig is actually fairly nifty in that it uses the two-burner linear stove where, essentially, there are just two burners in a row. This is a good space saver and probably more capability than many need. 

But there is also no oven, other than the microwave. Also the countertop is not a waterproof design, but is wood with a laminate glued on top like in your grandmother’s house. Also, the kitchen sink is plastic. 

Now, to be fair, this is how both my modern and vintage trailers are built and it’s just fine. But you also see fewer and fewer plastic sinks and counters made like this any longer. 

Surprisingly, the dinette in this is pretty “fluffy friendly” – more so than many trailers I see with fixed dinette tables. 

Different bunk ratings whether trailer is stationary or moving

Also, the bunks are rated for 300 pounds when the trailer is stationary and 200 when it’s moving. Not that you’d put people in the bunks and tow the trailer, but many people buy bunkhouse trailers so they can haul stuff rather than people. This is the first time I’ve seen a decal with a different weight for stationary and moving. 

I also like the roller shades in this trailer – which isn’t something you usually see at this price point. 

The TV in this trailer hangs over the head of the bed, so I can’t see it being convenient for anybody in this camper. 

In summary

Just a couple of years ago we would sell trailers like this all day long for under $20,000. Now the MSRP is over $27,369 – which just blows my mind. Sure, almost nobody pays MSRP. But the fact that even little trailers are this expensive is a boggler of the brain. 

More wind drag with the corroguated front panels on the Open Range 19BH

One more thing. If you do wish to tow a smaller trailer with something like a Colorado or Tacoma, even if this trailer is within the cargo carrying and towing capacity of some of those trucks, know that the corrugated front panels on this are going to cause additional wind drag. If I were to go back to towing with a mid-size truck, I’d really want something with a smooth front or, better yet, a folding trailer. 

The Open Range 19BH compares with the Springdale 1800BHS

I would say this trailer compares directly with the Springdale 1800BHS that we all looked at a while ago. Frankly, I prefer that trailer to this one. It has more storage including more water storage, and is much, much less expensive.

*****

I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.

Tony comes to RVTravel having worked at an RV dealership and been a life long RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has a podcast about the RV life with his wife. 

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Roller Shades
Magnetic Baggage Door Hold-Backs
Tiny Outside Storage

SUMMARY

The Highland Ridge Olympia Sport 19BH is a small travel trailer built as an entry-level model with some nice features. But another reviewer recently described it as the best in the category and I don't agree.

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Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

I like how the top bunk mattress doesn’t quite fit the space it’s in. And if it’s because whoever took the picture failed to push it in, shame on them!

Scott R. Ellis
1 month ago

Do you have any actual testing to back up your ideas about aerodynamics? You’re pushing a giant flat surface almost obliquely through the air: I would bet that whether said surface is smooth or corrugated makes essentially zero difference in net drag.

Scott R. Ellis
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Barthel

Ha. Yep: the aft end is counterintuitively important. As it is counterintuitive that turbulence can under some circumstances *reduce* drag. Until somebody tests we won’t know, but I personally would not reject a bumpy trailer over a smooth one because I was hoping for any significant difference in fuel economy.